Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger calls a play during the first half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
- The Pittsburgh Steelers are 6.5-point favorites against the Washington Football Team
- Betting record: 5-8, -3.20 units
- See the game odds, spread and total as well as a preview below
Is it too early to start discussing whether the Steelers (11-0) have a shot of registering the first perfect regular-season since the New England Patriots went 16-0 in 2007?
The opportunity to add that distinction might be in the Steelers’ minds this week as an added layer of motivation.
The Steelers are 6.5-point favorites Monday against Washington (5pm ET kickoff), but there are upset warning signs. Washington is well-rested, idle since thrashing the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. Meanwhile, the Steelers played last Wednesday after Covid-19 played havoc with Pittsburgh’s schedule.
Washington vs Pittsburgh Odds
|Washington Football Team||+240||+6.5 (-110)||O 43 (-110)|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||-303||-6.5 (-110)||U 43 (-110)|
Odds taken Dec. 6 at DraftKings
Washington also looked like a different team since Alex Smith took over at quarterback. Meanwhile, the Steelers have continued to dig deep every week to stay on top. Pittsburgh players may be reminding each other this week not to take Washington lightly.
Roethlisberger Playing Like He Has Something to Prove
At 38, Ben Roethlisberg isn’t showing any signs this pressure-filled season is wearing him down. The Steelers had a close 19-14 win in their last game against Baltimore, but Roethlisberger threw more passes (51) ithan any previous game this season.
He also completed 70% of those throws, and did what he needed to be done to make sure the Steelers earned their 11th win. Roethlisberger is averaging 254 yards per game passing this season, but over the last four games he has upped that average to 293.
Statistics aside, Roethlisberger seems driven to make sure this is an exceptional season for the Steelers, maybe because he don’t know whether it is last season.
Entering Week 13, @_BigBen7 is one of three QBs this season with 25+ pass TD & fewer than 10 INT:
– Roethlisberger (25 TD/6 INT)
– Aaron Rodgers (33 TD/4 INT)
– Patrick Mahomes (30 TD/2 INT)
— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) December 6, 2020
Washington’s Confidence Level Should Worry Steelers
The Steelers can’t allow themselves to be fooled by Washington’s 4-7 record. Washington is 2-1 since Alex Smith became starting quarterback and the team is tied for first in the NFC East. Based on how Washington performed in the rout against Dallas, the players seem to be feeling good about themselves. They believe they can win the division.
Smith’s accuracy (69% completion rate) has bolstered this offense. As a receiver, Terry McLaurin is as productive as anyone on Pittsburgh’s roster, with 963 receiving yards this season.
Running back Antonio Gibson has stepped up in their last two wins, rushing for 209 yards, four touchdowns and a 5.8-yard-per-carry average.
The only player with more yards after the catch this season than Terry Mclaurin is Alvin Kamara. pic.twitter.com/sdBbjUblM9
— Donmegah (@donmegah) December 3, 2020
Steelers Lose Key Pass Rusher for Season
The Steelers’ injury list is cause for concern. Their losses will be difficult to overcome. Linebacker Bud Dupree, boasting eight sacks and two forced fumbles this season, has been declared out for the season with an ACL tear. Running back James Connor is expected to remain on the Covid-19 list. Kicker Chris Boswell (hip) is now listed as doubtful.
Roethlisberger (knee) is listed as questionable, but there is no indication that he will miss the game. Cornerback Steve Nelson (knee) is also questionable. The Steelers have shown considerable resilience in dealing with injuries. When linebacker Devin Bush was lost earlier, the Steelers rose up to play a stronger collective defensive game.
Losing Bud Dupree sucks. But I don’t think it’s a Steelers season killer. The Ryan Shazier injury in 2017 was that. They can still win the Super Bowl. Now, if that injury happened to TJ Watt? That’s a different story.
— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) December 3, 2020
Defensive end Stephon Tuitt is expected to return to the lineup after being on the Covid list last week.
Washington wide receiver Terry McLaurin, offensive tackle Morgan Moses and edge rusher Ryan Anderson are all listed as questionable, but they are expected to play against Pittsburgh.
Bet On Ben To Get It Done
No NFL team has been better than Pittsburgh (8-3) against the spread this season. This feels like it could be an upset game. But the Steelers have a lot of pride in their unbeaten record. Roethlisberger’s determination will be the prevailing factor.
Pick: Steelers -6.5 (-110)
Kevin Allen has covered most major events, including the Olympics, Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Final. He covered the NHL for USA Today from 1986-2020, receiving the Lester Patrick Award in 2013 and was honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014 with the Elmer Ferguson Award.